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April 03, 2024

People First, Technology Second: A Mantra for Modernizing Remote Contact Center Work

People First, Technology Second: A Mantra for Modernizing Remote Contact Center Work

Susan Terry

Global Vice President Portfolio Maximization

There was a time in the not-too-distant past where almost everyone – you, me, our teams, our managers – worked from home. From the pressures of a global pandemic emerged a new working model with boundless potential, and that model stayed strong in the contact center industry.

There are no hard numbers on exactly how many agents currently work remotely, but studies and industry analysts estimate around 30-50%. This tracks with Gartner’s prediction that between 30-80% of agents would primarily work from home by 2023.

Today, remote work means working from anywhere: home, a co-working location, an RV, wherever works best for the worker. Contact center agents are perfectly primed for this kind of work, and Gartner reports that 70% of agents want it. The question is: are companies priming agents to succeed with remote work long-term?

I do not ask this this in terms of productivity or efficiency but in terms of human experience. The conversation has long centered around agent output while overlooking many key aspects of the human experience, which is the greater driver of value and business performance in today’s experience economy. This would do a lot to explain why agent turnover rates across the industry average between 30-45% annually.

Conversely, focusing on human experience does a lot to reduce agent attrition. One of Avaya’s customers has an incredibly strong retention rate because of its team community culture and remote/in-office flexibility, with our technology working behind the scenes to keep everyone connected, supported, and meaningfully engaged. Another one of our customers, the multi-national insurance and financial protection company Aflac, reduced agent attrition by 20 percentage points and increased its number of tenured agents by 10 percentage points in 18 months by pairing technology and training with an agent-first mindset.

Remote work works for agents, and agents want to work remotely, but you can’t lose sight of the impact that employee experience has on customer experience. Human engagement and connection is crucial, which technology can help solve for. I’m excited to present on this as a keynote speaker at the upcoming 2024 Remote Working Summit. Companies of all kinds come to this event to learn how to create a truly connected and flexible distributed environment, and the best in technology that makes it all go.

Here are some of the questions I’ll be answering:

  • What are things that can be done to improve the quality of work and the experience for an agent who works remotely?
  • Companies use innovative technologies to benefit customer engagement and operationally improve their business (their margins, revenues, etc.). How can we employ those technologies to the benefit of agents? One example is AI emotion tracking, something over 50% of large employers in the U.S. now use to better understand employees’ internal states.
  • How can companies use new technologies to retain agents and solve for high turnover? (hint: AI plays a huge role in helping agents feel like they’re part of a team)
  • What are some examples of companies using Avaya’s technology to put people first and foster human-to-human connections that matter?
  • There is an overwhelming amount of change required when it comes to new technology. How can you add new technologies to improve EX and CX while avoiding the exhaustion of chasing innovation? Hint: this is what Avaya’s innovation without disruption approach is all about, integrating innovation versus imposing unnecessary disruption. 

I hope you’re ready for an incredible time at the 2024 Remote Working Summit, taking place April 9-10 in Dallas, Texas! In the meantime, see how Avaya’s innovation without disruption approach can help your enterprise drive value faster in your environment, at your pace, on your terms.

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